AM Online

Watch out for Mr and Mrs Average

For many retail buyers the reasons not to buy a used car far outweigh the advantages at the moment.

The gloomy outlook has punters asking themselves ‘Can I justify a later model sitting on my drive when I have so many negatives to overcome?’.

For example, having to jump through hoops to get finance, the cost to change medium-sector Mondeo-sized cars, 4x4s and people-carriers, of which the values really have collapsed, for smaller, more economical-to-run models and, the biggest negative, will I have a job to pay for it if I commit to buy?

As a consequence, consider the massive losses the used car industries are suffering: retail, trade and all the suppliers who keep the wheels turning. The used car market is three to four times bigger than the new car market and the financial losses are colossal, possibly bigger than any other industry.

There are around 30 million used cars in the UK. The average value 12 months ago was £3,000. It has fallen by about one third or £1,000. The financial losses to the economy from last year alone are therefore around £30 billion, the equivalent loss around £500 per person.

With many people worried whether they will have a job this time next year, it’s no surprise that dealers are finding buyers thin on the ground. If the UK follows the US jobs market, then their fears will be justified and replacing the family car will be the last thing on their mind.

However, the car market could have a saviour in the shape of Mr and Mrs Average. They are feeling comfortable in their jobs and are paying less for their mortgage, fuel, food and clothes, leaving them a cushion of spare cash.

Savings accounts aren’t earning what they used to, the Stock Market isn’t a viable option and the pound is so weak that foreign travel doesn’t make sense.

With used car values at rock bottom, it could be that this more comfortable set of individuals decide to bag themselves a used car bargain and see dealers through the tough times.

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